When Nudes Are Stolen, review: this BBC documentary needs to be watched without judgment

As an illustration of just how ancient I am, and how far removed from the BBC’s ideal audience of 16-34-year-olds: on seeing the title of When Nudes Are Stolen I was expecting a documentary about art gallery theft.

But this is BBC Three, and the nudes in question are shots of women which are used to create fake profiles on dating apps, in online sex chats and as social media accounts. The presenter, Jessica Davies, an ex-glamour model-turned-influencer, was a victim of this. Over the past 10 years, an army of fake Jesses has appeared online, except they are called Kim or Mabel or Jane. The purpose of these accounts is to wring money out of men who think they really are talking to this attractive woman, when in reality they’re dealing with scammers.

In the UK, revenge porn (sharing private or sexual images of a person without their consent) is a criminal offence. But in the case of Davies and others, things are muddier. These are poses that she posted online herself – taking topless selfies for a website, in exchange for a fee. Now those pictures are public property, and there isn’t a great deal she can do about it.

Some of these pictures are sold in packs – Davies is such a regular target because the scammers also use girl-next-door images of her, taken from her Instagram feed, to create a more believable profile – and Davies found herself in the surreal position of being offered images of herself in an online bundle, in exchange for a $15 Amazon card. The practice is called, horribly, “e-whoring”.

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